Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Massive gates remnants of medieval past

There once were a dozen of them, but only two remain. Once the walls surrounding the medieval city of Valencia were torn down, most of the gates lost their raison d’être.

But the architecturally impressive Torres de Serranos, built in 1392, continued to function in other ways. For many years, the fortification made a suitable prison for upper crust nobles and knights finding themselves no longer in favor. During the Spanish Civil War, paintings from the Prado were stored there for safe-keeping.

But most dear to Valencians, the royal entryway always has served as a ceremonial heart of the city, the place where Las Fallas festival is kicked-off every year. Like Alamo Plaza has been but might never be again for San Antonians.

The smaller Torres de Quart perhaps was permitted to remain standing so its pock-marked walls serve as a reminder of its assault by those nasty Napoleonic forces in 1808.

From my point on the plaza observing even some of the young and fit clinging to nonexistent finger-holes on the steep descent bounded only by a skinny railing way too low to grasp, I concluded not to ascend the steps of Torres de Serranos. Jimmy Stewart convinced me long ago of my tendency toward vertigo. Shy of a helicopter rescue atop, I would have had to unflatteringly back down on all fours, hindquarters first.

I wisely opted for more of a Rear Window approach, happily sipping a beer while people-watching. The Daughter, on the other hand, scampered up and down on two occasions.

Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Stifling the voice of women leads to startling image on street

So wish this powerful image from Valencia was plastered up prominently near the Capitol in Austin to haunt legislators upon entering.

Among the most humorous in this final posting of Valencian street art is the juxtaposition of “Chihuahua Man” above a small children’s playground. And love the dotted cart parked by the artist giving his leopard a final dose of spots.

Of course, the Mister’s favorite is what we referred to as “Our Lady of the Tube Amps.”

Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Clouds of incense fill Church of the Patriarch

Swirling clouds of incense blurred the ceiling frescoes and dome of the Church of the Patriarch when we finally managed to coordinate our arrival as a mass ended. The church is associated with a seminary still active, and the monks residing there are known for their daily Gregorian chants, which we missed.

The church and cloisters were founded by San Juan de Ribera in the XVI century. Juan de Ribera was born in Seville in 1532 and educated in Salamanca. He became archbishop of Valencia, leading to his establishment of the Royal Seminary.

Today a large portion of the cloisters is filled with a rich collection of art, including work by Valencian-born Renaissance painter, Juan de Juanes  (1523-1579) (love that name).

One of my favorite things about the church and chapel is the juxtaposition of cheerful bright tilework with the serious religious frescoes, accented by a sprinkling of chubby cherubs. And, of course, Saint Anthony, the patron saint of our hometown, seems to follow us everywhere we travel.